You know what they say about converts: Is it true? – Faith & Reason


Religious converts are supposed to be fervent, passionate, zealous — and more so than home-grown believers.

If you spend much time in different houses of worship, you know that “cradle” followers of a denomination or tradition are known to joke about the need for newbies to take it down a few notches.

But a new study from the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life finds that while converts are more religious than others, they are not as different as people think.

Posted via web from Dierckx & Associates

OPERATION PEDRO PAN: an inspiring story


Thousands of children were aided in their escape from communist Cuba with the assistance of a determined priest

Imagine a young Irish priest in the early 1960s in Miami, with little or no knowledge of Spanish or Cuba, organizing the largest exodus of children ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere — and keeping it secret for more than a year.

Read the whole story here >>>



CONFESSIONS OF A DOUBTING THOMAS


Doubting Thomas by Caravaggio

John 20 of the New Testament deals in verse 21-29 with the story of “Doubting Thomas” who would not believe that Jesus was resurrected before he had had a chance to feel the wounds cause by the crucifixion for himself.

Well, according to the author of John, he was given that opportunity.

28Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

29Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

According to the Wikipedia this passage illustrates how Jesus preferred faith over skepticism. A logical explanation. At the same time you could look at the meanings of the word blessed to find in for instance the Collins Shorter Dictionary and Thesaurus that blessed means

characterized by happiness

Come to think of it, I have read many books by now that deal with finding evidence for God, here in New Zealand one could think of the recently published Divinity Code by Ian Wishart or what to think of the site Does God Exist or “The Rational God” by Robert Cary and there are of course the range of Atheisty books like Dawkins “God Delusion” that try to make a case for the non-existence of God. Personally I always had an issue with trying to prove what there isn’t. It just does not seem to make sense to me.

More recently I have written my own opinions on this matter after a visit to Harmony Church. At the moment I am reading the book “A case for Christ” byLee Strobel which I have to say is a fine read which I will most definitely report in another post ( A big thanks you to Charles if you read this).

Looking back only at myself, what is the case with Thomas is probably the same as what has happened to me and with me many others that are willing to consider the possibility and start looking for the evidence. You end up in a long process of looking at the evidence, being convinced at times but at the same time focusing on the missing pieces. If you want me to believe, and for that matter I want to, if only because I see what it does to people, than I need proof and further proof and further proof. At the same time those that just took the leap of faith are enjoying the “goodies” it seems.

The whole journey of the past years has been one as described of a rationalist with a twist, trying to make faith a rational choice. In that journey there have been many moments of joy, of epiphany and also of doubt, of self reflection which has taken countless hours locked up in my study, late at night, researching, reading, talking to experts you name it. I could have just accepted in the first place that what seems to be supported by evidence and rational thought straight away and not gone through the struggle that came with this journey.

Could it maybe be that “blessed” also refers to that quality of “characterized by happiness” that comes from not being hindered by skepticism? A very friendly lady at Harmony Church, and having read my post said it I guess better than anyone could have told me:

You remind me of my husband, also an intellectual, always reading, writing, studying. But you know all this intellectual stuff can stand in the way of enjoying your relationship with God.

I guess the lady has a very strong point. The journey of the last years has been very rewarding in that I have found in the teachings of Jesus a fantastic guide to life. But all the intellectual exercises could very easily lead to making these powerful lessons into the “Ultimate Guide to Humanism”, you live according to the values but miss out on the joy that comes with placing your faith in Jesus and letting God be a living part of your life. In that sense:

blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed

There was never any doubt about whether or not a Creator existed, just look around you. But the next step is of course asking yourself the question what that God or creator is like. Can there really be such a thing as God interfering in human life and watching over us?

All I can say for now is since I opened myself up to this possibility and started seeking for the relationship, little miracles seem to happen every day.